In the San Francisco Bay Area, moviegoing is not just for the newest releases. In 2013 there were more theatrical opportunities to see films spanning the history of cinema than any one person could take advantage of. Therefore, I've asked a sampling of local moviegoers to select a few favorites seen in cinemas last year. An index of participants is found here.
The following list comes from Carl Martin, projectionist and keeper of the Bay Area Film Calendar.
the rep scene is not healthy, and i saw far fewer films than in years past (and read far more books). but i saw enough that i still had to do some winnowing to get down to ten. except for Shura in 16mm, all were screened in 35mm. once again i broke a rule and included a private screening. it was part of a curated series, just not a public one. these days film is being driven underground.
pfa: China 9 Liberty 37. the red-herring title comes from a mile-marker sign glimpsed in this ultra-obscure late classic-era monte hellman film. a film needs a title, you know, for marketing purposes. beyond that, hellman doesn't give a f-star-star-k! endless foul-mouthed quotability. faded (unique?) print.
february 24, pfa: Shura - the 48th Ronin. an audacious formal exercise. what is real, what is not? it is all cinema.
april 11, roxie: The Witch Who Came From The Sea. whether intentionally or not, a bizarre millie perkins performance meanders through narrative holes to weave a concise, tragic portrait of a very messed-up dame. we had to bring this back later in the year as a film on film show. shot by dean cundey!
april 26, castro: Duel. i would come across spielberg's debut when it played on tv years ago and be transfixed, but had never caught the beginning where some of the subtext is clarified. a complete and proper screening confirms its brilliance. life in the twentieth century has left dennis weaver unmanned, un-humanned even. his malaise takes the shape of a gnarly big rig he can't shake. hellish. hellman-ish.
august 15, roxie: Vice Squad. wings hauser unchained! shot by john alcott.
september 15, castro: Carnival of Souls. i'd been wanting to see this for years. the print was to die for. such contrast, such sensuous tones! low-budget poetry.
october 25, pfa: Fear of Fear (angst der angst). i failed to appreciate this one when i first saw it back in '97. it's fassbinder at his most sirkian. when you peel the onion, tears come.
december 3, private screening: Tough Guys Don't Dance. an outrageous, lurid potboiler from the machismo-addled mind of norman mailer (who helmed as well). you never saw such lines delivered with straight faces by ryan o'neal, isabella rossellini, lawrence tierney, penn jillette, WINGS HAUSER, and a couple of palookas with the most ineptly overblown southern accents in cinema. "ah just whasn't maaade for this kahnd of imbrohglio!"
castro: Blast of Silence. i saw a triple feature one day back in the nineties at the uc theatre. first, a quite excellent noir, i forget which one. then, one of those amazing, unforgettable, genre-defining noirs, can't remember the title. and then, Blast of Silence. from that day on (one of the best days of movie-watching i've had), i've enshrined allen baron as a genius in my mind, despite never seeing any of his other work. he came to the castro. everybody loved him. i was moved. my only regret is that i couldn't bring him home with me.